Long-standing Fountain community worker Graham Warke says he’s delighted to have been co-opted by the DUP to fill the vacancy on Derry City and Strabane District Council left by Gary Middleton’s recent departure for Stormont.
In a week of DUP reshuffles the 34-year-old father-of-one will today (Wednesday, May 13) tie up the final administrative formalities in advance of taking his seat.
Mr Warke, who lives in Newbuildings, says he hopes he can emulate Mr Middleton’s representation of the constituents of the Faughan District Electoral Area (DEA), on the local authority.
“Gary’s done a very good job in the Faughan area,” said Mr Warke. “I’m absolutely over the moon to have been selected by the party as his replacement on the Council and hopefully I can try to do as good a job.”
Graham Shields, the Chief Electoral Officer, on Tuesday (May 12) gave notice that “Graham John Warke has been returned to fill the vacancy on Derry and Strabane District Council.”
Whilst Mr Warke will represent the city’s rural hinterland on the east bank of the river, his strong presence on the ground in Londonderry’s last remaining Protestant estate on the west bank will also mean a louder voice speaking for it on the new Council.
“Hopefully, I’ll do my best for everybody in the city and the Fountain as well,” he said.
Mr Warke has served as a youth worker at the Cathedral Youth Club in the Fountain for years and has a special interest in tackling the problem of legal highs.
He’s currently in the process of producing a DVD addressing the issue.
He’s also been responsible for rolling-out diversionary programmes during times of heightened community tension on the Fountain/Bishop Street interface and has often been first on the ground when the Fountain has come under missile attack in the past.
Last year he travelled to Washington, DC, as part of a United States Institute of Peace and PSNI-sponsored peace-building programme.